Game Notes: The Eurocup Finals
A Blazer, a Spur and an Aussie lead Valencia over Berlin.
There is no greater euphoria than that of a newly crowned champion. It’s raw. It’s consuming. But it’s also temporary. The champagne gets sticky, the confetti is swept away and our champion wakes up the next morning with the spoils of victory behind him.
Unless he just won the Eurocup, in which case his reward renews itself daily for an entire season and maybe more. Because as the second best intra-European competition, the prize is a chance to move up and play with the continent’s best in the Euroleague. Only a game away from qualifying earlier this season, Alba Berlin would have loved to get back on top, but Power Electronics Valencia wasn’t having any of it.
The notes from the Eurocup Finals in Vitoria, Spain:
– To say Kosta perovic “won” the tip is overly generous. He and Blagota Sekulic both whiffed, landed on the ground, then Kosta flailed as the ball rolled down his forearm. Luckily for Valencia, Kosta’s forearm plays for their team.
– Victor Claver just did a terrible, heartless, disgusting thing to Sekulic. Not even 12 seconds in, Nando de Colo directs the one-handed touch pass Victor’s way. Fakes left, drives middle and BOOM. I haven’t seen any basketball posters for sale in my two months here, but this image should be plastered on the first.
– Judging by the confetti, the fans enjoyed Claver’s dunk. If Portland loses one Spanish dunk contest participant this off-season, they’ve got another in their back pocket.
– After an assistless semifinal, Spurs property Nando de Colo is looking to dish. Might not get the scorekeeper love on the Claver jam, but he certainly will with the behind-the-head drop off to Kosta Perovic. Perdy.
– Thomas Kelati into the game now for Valencia. As off-seasons go, his was quite embarrassing: signed by Olympiacos, then cut two weeks later due to fan backlash. They wanted someone with more clout like a Rimantas Kaukenas or a Sarunas Jasikevicius. The Lakers signed him long enough to bolster his ego and then they fired him, too. Kaukenas is only days away from his release from Real Madrid and Jasikevicius hardly played as Panathinaikos crashed and burned in the Euroleague. I wouldn’t say Kelati has “the last laugh,” but at least a faint chuckle.
– These guys are really pouring it in. It’s 8-8 after 8 minutes of play. On pace for a 40-40 draw.
– Carl Landry made chipped teeth cool. Marko Marinovic is turning them into the new pimp cane.
– Scoring really picked up over the last two minutes. It’s 11-10 in Valencia’s favor. Perovic with 6, Claver with 2 and de Colo with 3. As expected, the boys upstairs only gave de Colo a single assist. Stingy.
– There’s an epidemic plaguing European basketball, and it’s called “erratic playing time.” Adam Chubb scores 27 last night for Berlin, so yeah, let’s trot him out there for 1:04 in the first quarter.
– Instead of a blankie and a bedtime story, every Valencian baby is given the same orange scarf and a book of chants.
– Valencia’s Florent Pietrus is about 15 pounds and a gallon of talent away from being Mickael.
– Breakaway lay-in for Claver. No confetti this time, just some dudes with oboes and trumpets playing my ear off about 12 feet away.
– 15 minutes in, Alba Berlin finally decides to go with Rashad Wright and Julius Jenkins up top, setting up the potential “too many dreads on the court” penalty. Bold move.
– Kelati steps back and buries a 20-footer. Take that, Mitch Kupchak.
– Blagota Sekulic tries to redeem his family’s honor with a dunk of his own but instead throws it at the bottom of the rim. That is not levitation, homes.
– Julius Jenkins misses a three from the corner. Next possession: learns from his mistakes, buries one from the top of the key.
– 20 seconds later Jenkins clanks one off the side of the glass. He gets extra points for shot variety.
– Matt Nielsen looks like the “After” picture in Marc Gasol’s Nutrisystem commercial.
– 10.4 seconds to go in the half, Berlin down 22-34. Let’s see what unfolds.
– Nando de Colo wets one up from the top of the key right at the buzzer. It’s 36-22 at halftime. I thought Valencia would win this one, but I didn’t expect it to be such a massacre.
– Valencians of note after two quarters: Thomas Kelati (9 points, a surprising 5 rebounds), Nando de Colo (5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist), Matt Nielsen (only 2 points, but a workmanlike 5 rebounds and 6 fouls received).
– Berlin’s best: Derrick Byars (6 points, 1 rebound), Julius Jenkins (6 points and a steal), and…that’s about it. All-Eurocup First Teamer Immanuel McElroy is scoreless. A night after looking like George Mikan Jr, so is Adam Chubb.
– Derrick Byars being escorted onto the court for warm-ups by Berlin’s Head Coach, Luka Pavicevic. Luka’s time would be better spent elsewhere, as Byars’ 6 points in 17 minutes were hardly the problem.
– Now I know what Pavicevic was telling Byars: “Look, Derrick, everyone else kinda blows tonight. What do you say you just do this thing yourself?” He listened. Byars for threeeeeee.
– They finally get it in to Chubb, who spins and misses. Can’t blame him. He must feel like a pinch hitter.
– Byars loses it out of bounds and kicks the ball in disgust. The European refs decided not to ‘T’ him up. Welcome to fútbol country.
– Chubb finally gets a piece of the action as he has the ball slammed over him and onto his head by Kosta Perovic. Adam wants a mulligan on this entire night. And a hug.
– Whereas Kosta Perovic’s name once existed to me only on mock drafts from yesteryear, he’s proving himself to be a very real person tonight. Beautiful job of getting position again—this time Dragan Dojcin was the victim—he catches and then drops in the lefty baby hook. I’m impressed. It’s 46-31. You know who’s up.
– How to Train Your Dragan: Tell him to stop letting Kosta catch the ball with one foot in the paint every single time.
– On Alba’s last possession, Julius Jenkins was guarded by every single Valencia player at least once. From little Marko Marinovic to Perovic. Either Valencia is very comfortable switching on D, or somebody needs to get over a screen.
– de Colo is wearing white tape on his right wrist, a black sleeve on his left leg and he’s wearing two-toned And 1 Tai Chi’s. Gotham City has Harvey Dent. Valencia has Nando de Colo.
– Jenkins misses the halfcourt shot at 00:00. It’s 48-33 after 30 minutes of play.
– Valencia’s points by quarter: 11, 25, 12. Berlin’s: 10, 12, 11. Ouch.
– If you broke this game down into minutes, I think Berlin would be losing 0-31. It’s been that lopsided.
– Timeout with 8:46 to go, which gives me time to count the Alba Berlin fans in attendance tonight: 79. (No, I seriously counted them. There’s a tiny yellow cluster below the opposite basket.) Half of the upper deck is empty, as nearly 500 ticketed fans couldn’t make the trip because of that damn volcano. I don’t know if some German chants would have accounted for an extra 18 points, but 7 or 9 wouldn’t be a stretch. It’s really too bad.
– Florent Pietrus gets on the board with a free throw. Hooray! I swear he’s not as bad as I might have made him out to be earlier.
– Marko Marinovic nails the NBA-range triple. Everyone back at The Shire must be so proud.
– I was just handed a sheet of paper and asked to vote for the Eurocup MVP. One box says “If Power Electronics Valencia wins:” and the other says “If Alba Berlin wins:” I was considering filling them out with a “Nando de Colo” and a “You’ve gotta be kidding.” I then realized the person tabulating the votes was most likely Spanish. And that I was a tool. So I voted for Derrick Byars.
– By the way, isn’t “Power Electronics Valencia” such an imposing team name? Especially when the scoreboard just reads ‘POW.’ Regal Barcelona and Unicaja Malaga can keep their banks and insurance companies, I’ll take the steel machinery.
– Clock winding down to zeroes and the band is in full swing right next to me. On my bus ride tomorrow, my iPod’s right earbud will be rendered useless.
– The buzzer sounds, and Power Electronics Valencia have assured themselves a spot in the Euroleague. That’s got to be a cool feeling.
– And the MVP goes to…Matt Nielsen. A look at the statsheet sure wouldn’t produce that outcome (7 points, 6 rebounds), but at least it proves the folks in press row were watching the game. The big Australian’s motor never quits. Other Valencia contributors: Kosta Perovic (17 points, 4 rebounds), Marko Marinovic (12 points, 1 assist, 1 great smile). Nando de Colo (7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists). And since you were probably wondering, Victor Claver played 35 minutes and had 4 points and 4 rebounds. Numbers don’t jump off the page, but he looked comfy, active, springy.
– For Berlin: Derrick Byars (9 points, 3 rebounds), Steffen Hammann (9 points, 2 assists, 1 steal), Julius Jenkins (6 points). Adam Chubb and Immanuel McElroy combined for 6 points and 8 rebounds. Not what you need out of your best inside-out combo in the season’s biggest game. Focus shifts back to the German League now.